Three Minute Thesis Competition

Can you explain the importance of your research in just three minutes?

Suzie Ferry, 2011 University of Sydney winner and Australia--New Zealand runner up, with Alan Dench.

Suzie Ferrie, the 2011 University of Sydney winner and Australia–New Zealand runner up, with Alan Dench, Dean of Graduate Research School, University of Western Australia.

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) is a competition for postgraduate research students to present their research topic to an intelligent, non-specialist audience in an engaging way. You will have just three minutes to present a compelling presentation on your thesis topic and its significance.

It's a great way to practice explaining your research to people who are not familiar with your field – skills that will serve you well when applying for funding or engaging media attention.

It's also a fantastic opportunity to meet other students from across the University, hear about their research, and most importantly, have fun!

How to enter

Your faculty may be running its own heat (contact your faculty to find out!). The winners of the faculty heats will progress straight to the Finals.

But if your faculty doesn't run its own heat, or you would like a second chance, all students can enter the open heats.

Open heats for 2015 will be held:

  • Wednesday 19 August, 12-1pm, New Law School Annexe SR 444
  • Wednesday 19 August, 3-4pm, New Law School Annexe SR 444
  • Thursday 20 August, 9-10am, New Law School Annexe SR 344
  • Friday 21 August, 11am-12pm, New Law School Annexe SR 346

When you register, you can nominate your preferred heat. Your heat will be confirmed by return email. Additional heats may be organised if required.

Winners of faculty and open heats will compete in the Finals at Open Day. The winner of the Finals (or highest placed eligible entrant) will represent the University of Sydney at the Australia and New Zealand Three Minute Thesis Competition later this year.

Previous winners

The 2014 Final was held at Sydney University Open Day & Postgraduate Expo on Saturday 31 August 2014.

The winner of the 2014 Final was:

  • Kenneth Sabir, Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies

The runners-up were:

  • Samantha McAllery, Sydney Medical School
  • Mark Westman, Faculty of Veterinary Science

The following presentation was highly commended by the judges, and will receive an award sponsored by 99 Scholars:

  • Sean Pollock, Sydney Medical School

The following people also progressed from their heats to the final:

  • Maria Eliza Ruiz Aguila, Faculty of Health Sciences
  • Jennifer Baldwin, Faculty of Health Sciences
  • Hui Chen, Faculty of Dentistry
  • Ellie Frayne, Faculty of Health Sciences
  • Mouna Hamad, Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies
  • Lizzy Lowe, Faculty of Science
  • Barbara Padalino, Faculty of Veterinary Science
  • Banchqize Geitie Temesgen, Faculty of Agriculture and the Environment
  • Mark Westman, Faculty of Veterinary Science

How to prepare


The competition winner will be awarded $1000.

The winner (or highest ranked eligible finalist) will also be awarded $1500 for travel costs to represent the University of Sydney at the Australia and New Zealand Three Minute Thesis Competition.

There are also two runner-up prizes of $500 each.

All competitors will receive a certificate acknowledging their participation.

Rules – the fine print!

You must be currently enrolled or under examination (as at the day of the University of Sydney finals) in a postgraduate research degree at the University of Sydney. Enrolment can be on a full-time or part-time basis.

Your Three Minute Thesis presentation

  • Only a single static PowerPoint slide can be used during the presentation.
  • No animations, transitions, or embedded dynamic media (such as sound or video, etc) are allowed.
  • No additional props or instruments are allowed.
  • Participants must compete in person.
  • Presentations are limited to a maximum of 3 minutes. Competitors exceeding 3 minutes will be disqualified.

Judging criteria
The adjudicating panel will normally consist of at least three people, who may be members of academic or professional staff, representatives of SUPRA, or external guests. The judges score each presentation out of ten for each of the three following criteria:

  1. Communication style
    Was the thesis topic and its significance communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?
  2. Comprehension
    Did the presentation help the audience understand the research? (Consider clarity of communication, the quality of expression, the structure of delivery ie, intro, body and conclusion.)
  3. Engagement
    Did the oration make the judges want to know more?

Scores will be tallied as a judging tool, but the winner shall be based on a panel consensus.